Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Here and There

Without even noticing, I have reached the halfway point of my vacation in California. So far, the time has been spent rejuvenating and catching up with family and friends.

The contrast between here and Fes strikes me everyday. Life in Fes is full of colorful chaos and striking contrasts between interior and exterior life. Here in San Francisco, daily life is full of order and calm. In Fes I am ‘strange’, in San Francisco I am one of many and it’s easy to be anonymous. Fes is hot and dry, my city is walled-in, and I do all my own household chores. Life in my temporary dwelling here finds me chilled to the bone with daily fog yet filled with ease as the weekly housekeeping staff changes the linens on my bed, washes and irons anything I leave on the laundry room floor, cleans the bathroom (my favorite luxury) and empties the garbage which has been sorted into ‘recyclables, compost and non-recyclables’.

In Fes I work several jobs everyday. In San Francisco I have found some fill-in work that I do once in a while and at my discretion. In Fes I eat the same foods day in and day out. In San Francisco I have been enjoying foods long lost to my taste buds … salami and gruyere cheese, giant prawns, ahi tuna, smoked salmon, guacamole and fresh salsa with salty corn chips, and bacon, pork ribs and the occasional marguerita. Yummy, forbidden foods which are eaten with gratitude and relish. But here I must guard against myself and not succumb to eating processed foods or anything that isn’t organic (have you watched Food, Inc.? … if so you will appreciate what I am talking about).

Here in this lovely home in Pacific Heights I have a baby grand piano to torture and a television to watch horrifying reality shows such as ‘Jersey Housewives’ and the highly entertaining“America’s Got Talent’. Much to my surprise, I saw a belly dance duo I have shared the stage with win their way to a competition in Las Vegas. But I don’t own a TV in Fes … and I must say it is a decision that is validated every time I turn on the tube here.

I walk outside the door and stroll up one hill and down another into the Presidio where George Lucas has created a wonderful campus overlooking the Palace of Fine Arts and the San Francisco Bay. Back in Fes, the lovely gardens are all behind great walls and invitations are needed to enter the peaceful surrounds. Beautiful vistas await in Fes, too, but more often than not I must drive quite a distance to obtain the same spaciousness and often have to squint my eyes to overlook the plastic bags caught in the Agave bushes or the nooks and crannies of the terrain.

Life here vs. life there is a study in contrasts. And while I’m not saying one is better than the other I am enjoying the ability to move between the two and appreciate all the experiences on offer.